Timeslot 6 months for Iran Nukes

December 5, 2020

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, director of the Iranian Ministry of Defense’s research department and architect of the nuclear weapons program, was assassinated on November 27, 2020. According to the Iranian Fars news agency, the assassination took place using a remote-controlled machine gun placed on the platform of a truck that self-destructed immediately after the attack. Iran and U.S. intelligence sources claim Israel was behind the attack, although the possibility has also been raised that the Mujahideen-e-Khalq opposition group carried out the assassination, either alone or in cooperation with foreign operations. In any case, the targeted killing points to shortcomings and a possible leak in Iran’s counter-espionage and security organizations.

The killing of Fakhrizadeh may well be part of Israel’s efforts to prevent Iran from gaining access to nuclear weapons. According to current estimates, in the summer of 2021, Iran would have enough uranium to make two atomic bombs that could be deployed as warheads for Iranian missiles. This assessment represents the timeframe within which either a diplomatic (“window of opportunity”) or armed solution to Iran’s nuclear weapons program should be found.

As early as 2008, the CIA knew Fakhrizadeh had sought to build a nuclear warhead for an intercontinental ballistic missile. In addition to the leader of the nuclear weapons program, Fakhrizadeh was also the brigadier general of the Revolutionary Guard. Following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Iranian leadership decided to hide its nuclear weapons program. Fakhrizadeh transferred the bomb development project to Malek Ashtar University of Technology in Tehran and established a defense innovation and research organization, which was relocated to a new location. As early as 2008, he was found to have been involved in Iran’s 111 project (loading a Shihab 3-type missile with a nuclear warhead).

The Iranian leadership also decided to separate the military nuclear program, which would remain confidential and be further developed under Fakhrizadeh, from projects that could be presented as peaceful (including uranium enrichment). The latter projects were under the auspices of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

The latest attack is part of Israel’s targeted killing program in Iran and its behind-the-scenes wars elsewhere because, according to Syrian media, a high-ranking officer in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps was killed at the same time by drone strike in Al Qaim, Syria. operation in Tehran. A decade ago, four Iranian nuclear physicists (Majid Shahriari, 29 November 2010; Dariush Rezaeinejad, 23 July 2011; Masoud Alimohammadi, 12 January 2012; Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, 11 January 2012) were killed by motorcyclists. Of course, Iran is seeking reciprocal revenge for the assassinations, and last week, for example, three Iranians who had tried to attack the Israeli embassy in Bangkok were released from Thailand as part of a prisoner exchange.

Efforts have been made to halt Iran’s nuclear program on several occasions and often in various ways. The murders of key figures in Iran’s nuclear program are only a small part of this stopping effort. The following is a very limited list of other measures taken to end the nuclear program:

Iran’s nuclear program agreement and sanctions

The JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) is an agreement between Iran and the P5 + 1 group (China, Russia, France, Britain, USA + Germany) negotiated in 2015 on Iran’s nuclear program. The U.S. withdrew from the agreement in 2018 under President Donald Trump but incoming President Joe Biden has expressed a desire to update the agreement on the basis of the Democrats 2020 party program. The key elements of the original agreement were:

The UN lifts all its sanctions on Iran

Iran limits uranium refining to 3.67% (nuclear weapons would require 90% uranium), which, however, allows for the peaceful use of nuclear fuel.

Iran reduces its uranium stockpile from 10 tonnes to 300 kg.

Iran reduces its centrifuges from 19,000 to 6,104 accelerators.

Iran converts its nuclear facilities for research and peaceful use.

IAEA inspectors will have free access to all facilities of Iran’s nuclear program.

 

Diplomatic influence

In addition to international organizations, Israel has used diplomatic influence, especially in the direction of the United States, to demonstrate the weaknesses of the JCPOA and to verify Iran’s nuclear weapons program as previously dangerous.

In April 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed to the world the existence of Iran’s secret nuclear materials – as evidenced by the 100,000 documents obtained by the Israeli intelligence service from Project Amad from the Iran’s Atomic Archives. The documents contain several details of the scope, extent and intent of Iran’s nuclear weapons development program. Contrary to the allegations made in Iran’s December 2015 report to the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is now known that:

1. Iran has a nuclear weapons development program called Project Amad.

2. An Iranian state-funded and targeted researcher (Mohsen Fakhrizadeh) worked extensively on technology designed to build a nuclear bomb.

Documents show Iran has lied to the IAEA and the world in denying that it has ever carried out nuclear weapons programs. Instead, according to the Israeli view, Iran thus had a clear and rapid path to unrestricted uranium enrichment and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

 

 

STUXNET and cyber attacks

STUXNET was a virus program by Mossad that paralyzed Iran’s nuclear program and significantly slowed down the development of nuclear weapons. Cyberspace warfare is more common today; this year, for example, a cyber attack took place on 24-25. April 2020 when Iran struck through U.S. servers on several water and wastewater management and control systems across Israel. Israel, for its part, felt Iran had crossed the “red line” in hitting civil society structures. The counterattack took place on 9 May 2020 as a sophisticated cyber attack on Iran’s largest and most modern port of Shahid Rajaee in Bandar Abbas, resulting in a sudden and unexplained stoppage of the port following the collapse of the entire logistics system.

Sabotage of production facilities

Sabotage of production facilities affects not only Iran but also Lebanon. As the country is just recovering from the August 2020 explosion at Hezbollah’s ammonia depot in the port of Beirut, Beirut precision missile plants made headlines because they pose a risk of new explosions in the middle of a civilian population.

 

 

In 2013, the Fordo nuclear power plant in Qom Province, Iran, was seriously damaged. The explosion felt strongly within a three-mile radius around Fordo and “destroyed much of the installation”. After the explosion, Iranian forces quickly besieged the facility and prevented anyone from getting 15 miles closer to it. Iran banned the blast and Israel banned sightings of Israeli fighter jets in the vicinity of the facility before the blast.

There have been a number of unexplained explosions or disruptions in Iran related to the nuclear weapons program in recent years. Some may be damage, human error, or deliberate sabotage, and for some targets, Iran may have rightly blamed Israel. I think it is clear that Israel is using all possible means to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

 

Barrier to missile technology transfers

The blocking of transfers of missile technology from Iran / Syria to Lebanon has been a major cause of Israeli air strikes in Syria and Lebanon. For example, a drone attack on 25 August 2019 at a Hezbollah base in Beirut destroyed a vertical Planetary mixer used in space and missile programs to make the high-quality fuel necessary for precision missiles under development. Even more important than the mixer is probably the destruction of the associated computerized control unit. The operation is expected to slow down Hezbollah’s targeted missile program by up to a year.

The last option

A tool that has not yet been used but has been considered several times has been an air strike on Iran’s key nuclear production facilities. Israel has agreed flight routes for the attacks via both Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan to Iran. However, no strike has been made because the deepest targets in Natanz, for example, are more than 60 meters inside the bedrock and even the most effective “bunker destroyer” missiles can not yet reach them.

Iran’s latest nuclear program facilities are at a depth of nearly 100 meters, destroying them would require a “bunker-destroyer” missile with a nuclear warhead of a megaton, but the destruction has been calculated to be too extensive, with radioactive fallout reaching as far as India. In any case, plans and calculations have been made and updated for this option as well; S-300 system arrival. The Israeli Air Force (IAF) believes it can partially circumvent the threat posed by Iran’s S-300 combat system, for example.

Of course, there is also a zero option, in which case no agreement will be reached with Iran and the program will be slowed down in the current way by various methods. Of course, development is taking place defensively, for example, by refining the Arrow 3 missile, which is designed to combat longer-range ballistic missiles, such as Iran’s Shihab-3 missiles. Similarly, both cyber defense and attack are the core areas of continuous development.

 

Breakout time window

A key factor in looking at Iran’s nuclear program is a concept called “breakout time,” which is the time required to enrich enough weapons-grade uranium (WGU) to produce at least one nuclear weapon. To produce WGU, uranium must be enriched (eg by centrifuges) to more than 90% of its fissile isotope U-235. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) determines the amount of WGU needed for one weapon at about 27 kg of uranium. Natural uranium contains only 0.7 percent of the U-235 isotope, and approximately 5,000 Separative Work Units (SWUs) are required to enrich it into a single WGU. There are currently about 9,000 operational first-generation IR-1 centrifuges installed in Iran installed at the Natanz and Fordow facilities, and another 9,000 that are not in operation. Iran also has substantial stockpiles of 3.5% enriched uranium hexafluoride (UF6), which can be used as an alternative feed, shrinking the onset period to three months.

Using a 9000 centrifuge with the latest SW-1 model at 1 SWU / year and bringing nearly 9,000 other IR-1s into the network, the time window for Iran’s nuclear program would be about three months with natural uranium feedstock and 4-6 weeks with 3.5% UF6. with the raw material. Iran has also developed a more advanced IR-2m centrifuge rated at 5 SWU / year, and if 1,000 IR-2ms units installed on Natanz were used in conjunction with all 18,000 IR-1s, the corresponding time window would be shortened by a third.

In November 2020, the International Atomic Energy Agency estimated that Iran now owns 12 times more enriched uranium than would have been allowed under the 2015 JCPOA. According to Israeli estimates, Iran, at its current pace of development, would be able to produce enough armed uranium for two nuclear bombs by next summer 2021.

 

My Conclusions

According to Israeli sources, it is clear that Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was a key player in Iran’s nuclear weapons program in terms of his authority, expertise and organization and is almost impossible to replace. However, neither this nor any of the other Israeli measures mentioned above can completely prevent Iran from carrying out its nuclear weapons program, they only slow those measures; however they show, that no part of those programs is immune to Israeli attempts to block them. There is widespread support in Iran for revenge for Fakhrizadeh’s death, but perhaps not in fear of a stronger Israeli counterattack. In any case, Joe Biden’s work to start negotiations with Iran is likely to become more difficult.

Israeli security agencies have warned as well as prepared for the possibility that Iran might plan revenge attacks against Israeli tourists visiting the United Arab Emirates, among others. It is to be assumed, however, that, once again, it is only a matter of harsh rhetoric for internal use only, or that the attacks will be so modest that there will be no danger of a wider counterattack from either Israel or the United States.

Even if Iran’s retaliation for Fakhrizadeh’s death remained only formal without escalating anything comparable to the war between Iran and Israel, I think it is reasonable to assume that Israel will do its utmost not to allow Iran a nuclear weapon; however, the actions taken so far have only been able to slow down the concretisation of Iran’s nuclear weapon. In this sense, the stakeholders have now timeslot about half a year, a window of opportunity to achieve a diplomatic solution to halt Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the armed settlement could in many ways be very devastating.

Sources e.g: The Washington Institute ,

Earlier about topic:

Iran Nuke Deal And Israel

Iran Nuke Deal Enables The Détente

End Game Approaches on Nuclear Iran

Iran’s nuclear program at the crossroads


The Finnish version of this article first appaered in Ariel – Israelista suomeksi    website.


Israel-Iran Hostility Challenged At Grass Roots

August 9, 2015

images (6)Hostility between Israel and Iran — over the US-Iranian nuclear control agreement — has never been worse.  Israel has made an intensive lobby against the deal.  From Iranian side according to New York Post report, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is author of 416-page book advocating long-term, low-intensity warfare to wear down Israeli Jews and make them leave the country. Book also calls Holocaust a “propaganda ploy.”  However there has been also opposite phenomena at the grass roots. Latest was when an Israeli academic received a warm invitation from Iran as reported in Jerusalem Post on 9th August 2015:

Hebrew University of Jerusalem Chemistry Prof. Renata Reisfeld has been invited to become a member of the editorial board of the Tehran-based International Journal of Environment, Energy and Waste. Reisfeld happily accepted the offer. Reisfeld, the Enrique Berman Professor of Solar Energy at HU’s Institute of Chemistry, told The Jerusalem Post that Maryam Pazoki, assistant professor at the Faculty of Environment at the University of Tehran, sent her the official invitation. “The Iran Solid Waste Association (ISWA) is eager to promote academic, practical and simultaneous interdisciplinary research regarding technical, social, and cultural aspects of environment, energy, and waste.”

Therefore, “it has decided to set up a peer-reviewed, open-access International Journal of Environment, Energy and Waste (www.ijeew.com) available both in printed and electronic versions. On behalf of Prof. Omid Bozorg Haddad (the chief editor of the journal), I would like to invite you to join our elite group of managing editors and editorial board. It is my honor to have your name and support for participating in selection of editors occasionally. I am sure that with your support, we can make our ambitious goal a reality,” the Iranian academic wrote. Source: Jerusalem Post

The Hebrew University

Hebrew University

Earlier in July 2013, Iranian film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, an Iranian film maker and member of the Iranian political opposition who has won some 50 awards, visited Israel as a guest of honor at the Jerusalem Film Festival. He received an award for his efforts to promote freedom and democracy in Iran and hosted a film screening of his recent film The Gardener – a film that explores the Bahai community in Israel. The Gardener is the first Iranian film since the 1979 Iranian Revolution to be filmed within Israel. A number of his other films were also highlighted at the Jerusalem Film Festival. Crowds of Israelis honored him with standing ovations. Makhmalbaf was the first high-profile Iranian artist and former revolutionary to visit the Jewish state since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.

In response to Makhmalbaf’s visit to Israel, Javad Shamghadri, one of the authorities of the cinema agency, ordered the withdrawal of all of Makhmalbaf’s works from Iran’s cinema museum. Also a group of Iranian scholars, artists, journalists and activists who are deeply concerned by the decision of Makhmalbaf to take part in the Jerusalem International Film Festival as they see that his participation directly violates the International call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) of the State of Israel campaign issued by Palestinian civil society in 2005, as well as the specific call for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel issued in July 2004. On the other hand more than 80 Iranian scholars, opposition group members, and human rights activists openly declared their support of Mohsen Makhmalbaf‘s decision. More about case in my article  Iranians And Israeli Instead Of Israel Vs.Iran

images (7)Happily the Jerusalem Film Festival was not an isolated case. At grassroots there has been at least since 2012 a movement labelled as ”Israel loves Iran/Iran loves Israel”. It is a line of communication between the people of Israel and Iran – a bridge in the Middle East between the people. The mission of this mostly virtual group is to break the wall of fear, built a bridge of communication as war happens where there is no communication. ”And the only thing we can do…is communicate. Get the lines open. That’s hope…and that’s easy. Because of the internet” says in their mission statement. At grass-roots one of the activity was when 70 buses rode the streets of Tel Aviv carrying message for peace. Israel loves Iran Facebook community can be found from here!

P.S:

It could be mentioned that today the figure of Jews in Iran is some 8.000-25.000. There might be discrimination of Jews in Iran but on the other hand Jews in Iran are formally to be treated equally and free to practice their religion. Iran’s Jewish community is officially recognized as a religious minority group by the government, and there is even a seat in the Iranian parliament reserved for the representative of the Iranian Jews.

yusefabad_synagogue_tehran (2)

Yusef Abad synagogue in Tehran


Iran Nuke Deal And Israel

April 4, 2015

 

israel_iran_nuclearAfter 18 months of negotiating, Iran has come to a preliminary agreement – on 2nd Apr. 2015 – with China, Russia, France, UK, US and Germany (P5+1) on Tehran’s nuclear program. Niw the framework agreement is made but the negotiations for a final deal will continue through June 30th 2015.

In brief according the Iran nuke deal Iran’s stockpile and enrichment capacity will be limited and all nuclear-specific financial and economic sanctions against Iran will end. Officially Israel is against the agreement but there is also other opinions existing.

original

The framework deal

Here are the specifics of the preliminary deal:

  • The UN would end all previous resolutions sanctioning Iran, and would incorporate other restrictions for an agreed-upon time, according to Thursday’s announcements.
  • To build a nuclear bomb, uranium needs to be enriched to about 90 percent. The 3.67 percent agreed by Tehran means it would be practically impossible for Iran to build a nuclear weapon, but would allow it to use nuclear material for peaceful purposes.
  • Uranium is the key ingredient necessary in order to operate a nuclear program. Once it has been enriched, it can be used to generate power or create a nuclear weapon. According deal Iran to cut the amount it keeps from 10,000kg to just 300kg
  • Iran cuts centrifuges from 19,000 to 6,104, with 5,060 for enrichment Uranium stockpiles.
  • Iran’s nuclear facility at Fordow will be converted to a nuclear technology and nuclear physics center. The facility at Arak will be repurposed as a heavy-water research reactor that will not be able to produce weapons-grade plutonium.
  • Inspections – IAEA will have access to all Iran’s nuclear facilities
  • Sanctions – Iran will see sanctions lifted. Sanctions introduced against Iran have had a devastating effect on its economy. Areas such as oil and gas have been affected, while Tehran’s finance sector was also hit. This made it difficult for to trade on the world market, while areas such as Iran’s aviation industry suffered, as they were unable to get spare parts from the US and the West. Once sanctions are lifted, it will be a massive boost to Tehran’s economy as it will increase trade and see new investment into the country.

Risks?

  • Given the political situation in U.S. there is risk that U.S. Congress will not ratify the deal nor remove sanctions or that the new President, government and Congress will cancel the whole possible final deal.
  • There is also risk that Iran will continue to develop nuclear weapons and/or Israel will make air-strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities anyway.
  • There are now 12 sanctions in effect that target Iran’s energy O&G sector. And there are 20 sanctions that target the country’s financial sector, rendering it extremely challenging to conduct any transactions with Iran. The tentative deal neither outlines which specific sanctions will be removed first, nor the sequence in which they will be rescinded.
  • Even if a final accord is reached by June 30, it will take months before weapons inspectors arrive, assess and report on whether Iran is compliant with the accord. Consequently, it is very likely that this could delay the unleashing of Iranian oil into the global market for anywhere from six months to a year or more.

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Israeli reactions

Israel opposes the terms of the framework agreement, because it allows Iran to retain some infrastructure that could be used for producing nuclear arms if Iran chooses to violate the framework’s terms. In recent months, this issue has clouded U.S.-Israel relations. Israel will not accept an agreement that allows Iran to develop nuclear weapons, and it demands Iran recognize Israel’s right to exist, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “Israel will not accept an agreement which allows a country that vows to annihilate us to develop nuclear weapons, period,” Netanyahu said in what could be interpreted as a threat to act against Iran. (Source: VirtualJerusalem )

In Israel there is also other opinions about the Iran nuke deal. Ron Ben-Yishai, the senior military analyst for Israel’s most mainstream newspaper, Yedioth Aharonot, penned a column early Friday morning in which he said the deal was better than expected. Urging caution going forward, Ben-Yishai said that if the current framework reflects the final agreement, “even Israel could learn to live with it.” “We could not have achieved a better outcome even if Israel, the United States, and other countries had carried out military strikes on the nuclear sites in Iran,” Ben-Yishai.

Haaretz diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid wrote that Israel will have a hard time fighting the agreement, the comprehensiveness of which caught many in Jerusalem by surprise. “In contrast to the messages conveyed in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech at Congress, the Israeli government’s public position over the last two years and the Pavlovian response that came out of Jerusalem on Thursday night, the framework agreement is not a bad deal at all,” Ravid wrote.

 

There is Jews in Iran too

“We recognize our Jews as separate from those godless, bloodsucking Zionists.” (Ayatollah Khomeini )

The beginnings of Jewish history in Iran date back to late biblical times. Persian Jews have lived in the territories of today’s Iran for over 2,700 years, since the first Jewish diaspora when the Assyrian king Shalmaneser V conquered the (Northern) Kingdom of Israel (722 BC) and sent the Israelites (the Ten Lost Tribes) into captivity at Khorasan. In 586 BC, the Babylonians expelled large populations of Jews from Judea to the Babylonian captivity. Jews who migrated to ancient Persia mostly lived in their own communities. The Persian Jewish communities include the ancient (and until the mid-20th century still-extant) communities of Iran.

Yusef Abad synagogue Tehran

Yusef Abad synagogue Tehran

At the time of the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, there were approximately 140,000–150,000 Jews living in Iran, the historical center of Persian Jewry. About 95% have since migrated, with the immigration accelerating after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, when the population dropped from 100,000 to about 40,000. Today the figure is some 8.000-25.000. There might be discrimination of Jews in Iran but on the other hand Jews in Iran are formally to be treated equally and free to practice their religion.

Iran’s Jewish community is officially recognized as a religious minority group by the government, and there is even a seat in the Iranian parliament reserved for the representative of the Iranian Jews. Maurice Motamed, a former Jewish Iranian parliamentarian states that in recent years, the Iranian government has allowed Jewish Iranians to visit their family members in Israel and that the government has also allowed those Iranians living in Israel to return to Iran for a visit. Today Tehran has 11 functioning synagogues, many of them with Hebrew schools; it has two kosher restaurants, an old-age home and a cemetery (Source and more e.g. Wiki )

 

My view

If the latest Iran nuke deal will realize and even implemented I think it will be a win-win solution for most of stakeholders with the possible exception of Saudi Arabia. This said especially when asked what is the alternative? From my perspective all alternatives – war, air-strike to facilities or more sanctions – are worse. Iran has spread its nuclear facilities across the country and underground so airstrikes probably don’t delay Iran’s nuclear programme more than planned deal. To Iran agreement lets continue its research and gives it the benefits of nuclear energy as well the benefits of nuclear medical research and gives good change to develop Iran’s economy with wider international cooperation.

 How-Israel-can-strike-Iran-

Appendix 1: Interpretation

Here is a link to the text of the agreement that was presented by the EU.

Here is the text published by the White House. There is different interpretation between these versions.

As was pointed by Iran’s foreign minister. 

Here the larger background and details on Wikipedia.

 

Appendix 2: My earlier articles about Iran nuke:

Iran Nuke Deal Enables The Détente

End Game Approaches on Nuclear Iran

Iran’s nuclear program at the crossroads

Read also:

Iranians And Israeli Instead Of Israel Vs. Iran

 

 

 


Iranians And Israeli Instead Of Israel Vs. Iran

August 3, 2013

<img source="http://niacblog.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/israel_iran_nuclear.jpg?w=252&h=189" alt="Israel, Iran and nuklear."</img>Two days before his inauguration, President of Iran, Hasan Rouhani said, “The Zionist regime has been a wound on the body of the Islamic world for years and the wound should be removed”. A bit similar words were given by former President Ahmadinejad for years. On the other side Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu went on U.S television to remind the world that the threat from Iran remains very much alive. Speaking on “Face the Nation,” Netanyahu warned that the Islamic Republic is once again approaching a nuclear redline, and hinted that if the United States doesn’t take action soon, he will. Israeli leaders have been issuing such alarms for almost a decade now.

<img source="https://i1.wp.com/foreignaffairs.com/files/images/preview/Bibi3_0.jpg" alt="Israel, Iran and red line by Netanyahu."</img>While military strike still is a serious thread the secret war between Israel and Iran has been going on the whole time. From Israeli side well known actions are assassinations of some key figures in Iran’s nuclear program, Stuxnet and some strange blasts and explosions in Iran’s nuclear facilities. However its pleasure to find out that some civil activities will give hope that a non military development might be possible.

Jerusalem Film Festival

Recently in July 2013, Iranian film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, an Iranian film maker and member of the Iranian political opposition who has won some 50 awards, visited Israel as a guest of honor at the Jerusalem Film Festival. He received an award for his efforts to promote freedom and democracy in Iran and hosted a film screening of his recent film The Gardener a film that explores the Bahai community in Israel. The Gardener is the first Iranian film since the 1979 Iranian Revolution to be filmed within Israel. A number of his other films were also highlighted at the Jerusalem Film Festival. Crowds of Israelis honored him with standing ovations. Makhmalbaf was the first high-profile Iranian artist and former revolutionary to visit the Jewish state since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.

Born in Tehran 56 years ago, the maker of 20 films took part in the demonstrations against the shah of Iran which saw him arrested at the age of 17 and spending more than four years in prison. After the 1979 Islamic revolution he was able to concentrate on cinema, but his approach and attempts to prevent censorship angered the new authorities. Makhmalbaf was forced into exile in Afghanistan and Tajikistan, where he remained underground, before moving to Paris for four years. He now lives in London.

“On many occasions the Iranian authorities sent killers after me. I narrowly escaped a grenade attack in Afghanistan. In Paris I lived 24 hours with 24 bodyguards,” he said.

All of his films and 30 books are banned in Iran, but his movies do find their way in through black market DVDs, satellite television or YouTube.

“After my visit to Israel, I’ll probably face a campaign accusing me of being a Mossad or CIA agent,” he predicted. (Source and more in Arutz Sheva)

Makhmalbaf came to Israel despite the fact that he could face up to five years in prison for such a visit should he ever decide to return to Iran. According to Makhmalbaf, he made this film in Israel just to provoke the fundamentalist elements in my country.

In response to Makhmalbaf’s visit to Israel, Javad Shamghadri, one of the authorities of the Ahmadinejad-controlled cinema agency, ordered the withdrawal of all of Makhmalbaf’s works from Iran’s cinema museum. Also a group of Iranian scholars, artists, journalists and activists who are deeply concerned by the decision of Makhmalbaf to take part in the Jerusalem International Film Festival as they see that his participation directly violates the International call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) of the State of Israel campaign issued by Palestinian civil society in 2005, as well as the specific call for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel issued in July 2004.

<img source="http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSk_70bXyX41gV605Jarg3usbfC2tNwijlDWM0h1swcQBmd4hJ8" alt="Israel, Iran and cyberwar."</img>Still, Makhmalbaf says he is “proud to have paved the way for Iranian cinema in Israel. Boycotting and writing statements does not solve anything. It only leads to war. We have to get to know each other through art, literature, and cinema, so we can become friends and end the hostility. That’s the reason I filmed my latest movie ‘The Gardener’ in Israel.” And, he adds, he hopes that someday soon, Israeli filmmakers will be able to shoot films in Iran.

In an interview by Payvand Iranian News Mohsen Makhmalbaf answer to critics e.g as follows:

However, I am very happy for a discussion to have started and I believe we have to elevate the level of the conversation. My point is that religious enmity and hatred, particularly in the Middle East, are threatening the security of the whole world. By traveling, by starting a dialogue between different ethnic and religious groups and creating bonds of friendship between the opposing sides, we have to try to reduce this hatred and religious prejudice. Turning away and boycotting worsens the hatred.”

Man lives on the planet Earth. Communities need to communicate with one another. Cultural interaction can clear the way for solving financial and political crises. For sixty years, we went along with boycotting. It is time to start a cultural dialogue, especially on the topic of peace. In Israel I said, ‘I love your people and as far as I have seen, Iranian people also love Israelis.’ There is no problem between the two nations; it is a political issue between the governments.”

More e.g. in Payvand Iranian News 

On the other hand more than 80 Iranian scholars, opposition group members, and human rights activists openly declared their support of Mohsen Makhmalbaf‘s decision to come to Israel by following words:

In gratitude for Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s peaceful efforts in Israel

Iranian director, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, who recently attended the Jerusalem Film Festival to screen his latest film “The Gardener”, received a special award from the festival organizers for “artistic achievements” and “for his long battle and struggle for democracy and freedom” in Iran.

Upon receiving the award, Mr. Makhmalbaf stated: “If politics separates us, art, on the other hand, can heal these rifts and distances and unite us in our peaceful efforts.”

He further mentioned that he wanted to dedicate his award to “artists, politicians, intellectuals and all the people in Iran and Israel who have worked for peace and friendship between two nations and believe in it.”

Mr. Makhmalbaf added in Jerusalem that he likes the people of Israel but an attack by Israel against Iran would only worsen the situation.

He stated that instead of a military attack, Israel should support the “democratic forces” in Iran which struggle for freedom.

Mohsen Makhmalbaf predicted, while making these statements, that he would soon face a wave of accusations, that he would be called a “spy of CIA and the Mossad.”

His prediction has come true in a way. Besides the media that is owned or affiliated with the Islamic Republic of Iran, a number of other Iranians inside and outside Iran (under the guise of peace and human rights activists and intellectuals), have published a letter condemning Makhmalbaf‘s trip to Israel “with grave concern” as it “violates human conscience” and stated that his presence at Jerusalem Film Festival was tantamount to support of the “apartheid politics of the Israeli government.”

It is at this juncture of time, and under the circumstances outlined above, we sign this letter to support and applaud Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s bravery for breaking the taboo of visiting the state of Israel and conveying the message of friendship between Iranian people and people of Isreal.

We believe that supporting the rights of the Palestinian people is not a sufficient justification to criticize an Iranian director’s professional trip to Israel.

We still remember those Israeli and Iranian citizens who last year launched a campaign of friendship between the two countries and exchanged written and video messages stating that they “loved “ each other just when it seemed that the chances of an Israeli strike against Iran was increasing.

We condemn the politics of war whether it is advanced by officials of the Islamic Regime or some officials in Israel. Instead, we endorse, support and welcome, the position of Mohsen Makhmalbaf that instead of a military attack, Iran’s “democratic forces” should be supported.

Just like Mohsen Makhmalbaf, we are unafraid to stretch out our hands in friendship with the citizens of Israel and believe that art can be a tool that brings people together regardless of people’s racial, linguistic and political differences.

We believe that instead of criticizing Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s trip to Israel, we should call him the ambassador of peace and friendship between the people of Iran and Israel.

Signatures: more than 80 members of opposition groups, scholars and human rights activists

Israelis love Iranians and vice versa

<img source="https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRoPVyYuBRt3Sh7mWIuFZTNG9-4Q7aa6Mzo8Um6I6meDvLfxtP1jA" alt="Israel loves Iran and vice versa."</img>

70 buses rode the streets of TelAviv carrying message for peace

There is many Iranians who support peace with Israel as seen in an article published in pages of United with Israel – a global grassroots movement:

I think there are many Iranians who live for the day that Iran has diplomatic relations with Israel,” says Mhyar Shams Ahmadi, who was born in Tehran 28 years ago but now lives in Toronto. “In my view, if you just look at relations between Iran and Israel, it is clear that it is in fact the ruling regime in Iran that is preventing diplomatic relations.”

Ahmadi is inspired by the high-tech advances and Western-style democracy that Israeli society has achieved. “Israel is already serving as a model for Iran, and other countries, on how to treat women and minorities,” he says. “Much like Canada, Israel does not oppress its citizens and allows them to think freely without fear of being persecuted no matter what your religion or beliefs are.”

Ahmadi criticizes Iranian leadership’s view of Israel as “little Satan” to the US’ “big Satan.” He says he is embarrassed and saddened that the present Iranian government remains opposed to Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations. “Even with a new president, it is evident that Iran’s government hasn’t changed at all, and it is no surprise that Iran still continues to fail to live up to their international obligations,” he said.

Other Iranians are a bit more optimistic. “I think that the prospect of Israeli-Iranian relations will look good within the near future, either through the collapse of the regime, or by reform of Iranian politics,” says Pedram, an Iranian presently living in Stockholm, Sweden. “The Iranian and Jewish people have thousands of years of cultural and historical connection with each other and it cannot be broken just because we have an oppressive regime at the moment. I can with strong confidence say that the overwhelming majority of Iranians, both inside and outside the country, strongly support not only peace with Israel but also better relations in general.”

I highly appreciate people like Mohsen Makhmalbaf who have courage to act outside the box of their regime. Happily the Jerusalem Film Festival was not an isolated case. At grassroots there has been over one year a movement labelled as ”Israel loves Iran”. It is aline of communication between the people of Israel and Iran – a bridge in the Middle East between the people. The mission of this mostly virtual group is to break the wall of fear, built a bridge of communication as war happens where there is no communication.”And the only thing we can do…is communicate. Get the lines open. That’s hope…and that’s easy. Because of the internet” says in their mission statement. Israel loves Iran Facebook community can be found from here!

<img source="https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSaZtj1DEHNDMV2YuR99TPvHrvMQnyuI7P3y77VDwcykh1pv2bE" alt="Israel loves Iran and vice versa."</img>

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Some of my previous articles related to nuclear Iran:


US Giving a “Yellow Light” to an Israeli Strike

March 6, 2012

Sometimes there are no alternatives to confrontation”

(then – 2008 – candidate Obama)

In my previous article – End Game Approaches on Nuclear Iran – I described how US has changed radically its earlier position so that both the U.S. and Israel say also officially that they have not ruled out military action against Iran. During last weeks Israeli and US officials have been coordinated implementation and timing of air strike, U.N. nuclear agency (IAEA) is more concerned about Iran’s nuclear program than earlier and finally recent elections in Iran are not making other alternatives easier. Previous red light for airstrike has changed to yellow and attack is ready to start anytime when so decided.

During his key-note speech on March 4th 2012 at the pro-Israel campaign group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Conference this approach was again confirmed when President Barack Obama issued a stern warning to Iran if it continues to develop nuclear weapons. “When it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say…That includes all elements of American power,” he added. “A political effort aimed at isolating Iran; a diplomatic effort to sustain our coalition and ensure that the Iranian programme is monitored; an economic effort to impose crippling sanctions; and, yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency.”(Source: Bicom )

Earlier Israel has launched numerous preemptive military strikes against its enemies. In 1981 and 2007, it destroyed the nuclear reactors of Iraq and Syria, operations that did not lead to war. But this time there is serious possibility that an attack against Iran might result in a wider conflict. Earlier Israel has made its strikes even without informing US beforehand, now during last months US and Israel have been intensive contacts to coordinate their actions.

Some recent findings

The danger from Iran is grave, it is real, and my goal will be to eliminate this threat.” (candidate Obama 2008)

Pentagon officials disclosed Thursday, March 1, that “military options being prepared start with providing refueling for Israeli planes and include attacking the pillars of the clerical regime. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in Washington’s first public reference to possible joint military action with Israel against Iran.

Iran conducted at least one nuclear warhead test in North Korea in 2010, the German newspaper Die Welt reported on Sunday citing Western intelligence sources. According to the report, the sources said they identified two nuclear weapons tests conducted by Pyongyang in 2010, and that at least one of them was done for Iran. If true, the report, written by Hans Ruhle, a well-known German analyst and a former official in Germany’s Defense Ministry, would affirm Western suspicions that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, and with North Korea’s help. Evidence of the nuclear tests was first published early last month in Nature magazine, citing the work of Swedish nuclear physicist Lars-Erik de Geer. (Source: Israel Hayom )


The head of the U.N. nuclear agency – Yukiya Amano – expressed (on March 5th 2012) growing concern about investigating an Iranian site suspected of links to nuclear weapons development, saying there are indications of new activity there. Referring to his most recent report on Iran circulated late last month, Amano noted that Tehran had tripled higher monthly enrichment to 20 percent at Fordo over the past four months, as well as significantly expanding lower-level enrichment at another facility. Both lower enriched uranium below 5 percent and 20 percent enriched material can be processed further to 90 percent — the level used to arm nuclear warheads. But 20-percent enrichment is of particular concern because it can be turned into weapons-grade material much more quickly and easily that lower-enriched uranium.

Economical aspect?

WikiLeaks has started publishing more than five million emails hacked by Anonymous from the servers of Stratfor, a US intelligence gathering company.

An email sent by Chris Farnham, senior officer for Stratfor, to an internal unnamed source inside the company titled “Israel/Iran Barak Hails Munitions Blast in Iran” provides details about who would benefit from an Israeli attack on Iran, and say such a plan would be motivated by economic factors. According to the email, sent on November 13, 2011, supporters of an Israeli-led attack are Russia, India and Saudi Arabia, while the EU and China stand against such plans, mainly for economic reasons. “Not many people know that Russia is one of Israel’s largest military partners and India is Israel’s largest client. If a direct conflict between Iran and Israel erupts, Russia and Saudi Arabia will gain the advantages on oil increasing prices. On the other hand, China and Europe are expected to lose from an oil crisis as a result of a conflict,” the email says. Farnham said an attack would be motivated by economic factors rather than Iran’s nuclear programme. “If a massive attack on Iran happens soon, then the attack will have political and oil reasons and not nuclear. It is also very hard to believe that the Israelis will initiate an attack unless they act as a contractor for other nations or if Iran or its proxies attack first,”the email concludes. (Source: Transcend Media Service )

According Meir Javedanfar, a leading independent expert on Iran it’s very important for sanctions to continue because the Islamic Republic can’t live without its economy. It can live without its nuclear programme… Sanctions could make the regime bankrupt and sanctions are an existential threat to the regime. If you bomb the Iranian nuclear installations that’s not going to be a threat to the regime. But if the regime runs out of money it’s going to lose loyalty. The reason why the Revolutionary Guard are loyal to the regime is because they get contracts. It’s because they see Ayatollah Khamenei as a cash machine. The second that cash machine stops giving out cash the loyalty s going to disappear.“ (Source: Bicom ) In my opinion the question then is if the sanctions have time to push Iran’s theocratic regime out before it has a nuclear weapon ready.

The Iranian elections

It could be fair estimation that the elections were not democratic nor the results represent the will of population – the choice was merely between different hard-liners, conservatives or ultra-conservatives so the contest was waged solely between the current ruling elite. The Interior Ministry announced a national turnout of 64 percent, however opposition has questioned this figure. Opposition noted in particular that many reformist supporters had stayed home, protesting the continued house arrest of leaders of the pro-democracy Green movement.

Anyway loyalists of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei got a landslide victory with some 75 percent of seats in parliamentary elections at the expense of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This of course in the absence of major reformist parties, which have been prevented from organizing since the 2009 post-election unrest. Probably this outcome of Friday’s vote will have no impact on Iranian foreign policy and its nuclear program, more effect it will have to next year’s presidential election, then the supreme leader Khamenei will get more cooperative President. It is also possible that there will not be next presidential election at all, but instead president the Parliament will chose only a prime minister. Whatever Khamenei decides the defeat of Ahmadinejad will hamper his power over the next one and half years that he has left before next scheduled elections.

The outcome reflects well the ”Islamist Winter” after the ”Arab Spring” in MENA region. In case of Iran the rise of political Islam represents conservative values and this might make a compromise solution with West more challenging if possible.

An appendix: A view from Iranian opposition

One should remember that possible military attack on Iran is mostly against Iranian regime and as last elections have showed this regime represents only one part of population; indeed it is estimated that the real support for Iranian hard-liners is only some 20 percent. One of the opposition groups is The Organization of Iranian People’s Fadaian (Majority) – Persian: سازمان فدائیان خلق ایران اکثریتSāzmān-e fedaiyān-e khalq-e Irān (aksariat) – which is the largest socialist party in Iran and advocates the overthrow of the Islamic regime there. The group is banned from open activity inside the Islamic Republic, and works clandestinely inside Iran and openly abroad. This group send a letter to President Obama and as their wise words in my opinion are reflecting good the grass-root attitude in Iranian opposition I publish the copy as such here below:

سازمان فدائیان خلق ایران(اکثریت)

Organization of Iranian People’s Fadaian (Majority)

international-relations@fadai.org

To the President of the United States of America

Mr. Barack Obama

Mr. President,

As a part of the Iranian opposition, we address you in the hope that decisions of your administration in relations with our country will be made taking the voice of the Iranian community into account.

We belong to those freedom-loving Iranians who fight for the implementation of human rights and democracy in our country, for friendly and tension-free relationships with all nations and who are, while being in favour of all countries’ right to utilise nuclear science and to use it peacefully within the framework of international regulations, in disapproval of the policies of the current Iranian regime in the fields of the nuclear programme, in favour of a solution for the Middle East conflict and in opposition to some other issues in which the current Iranian leadership disagrees with the majority of the international community. Among other freedom-loving citizens of Iran, we struggle for human rights and democracy in our country. We argue that criticising the policies of any state, including the United States of America, should not preclude peaceful relations with that country. We oppose the construction of hatred against other nations, including the United States and Israel. We are advocates of recognising Israel’s and an independent Palestinian state’s right to live within secure borders, advocates of the peaceful settlement of the Middle East conflict, involving all countries in the region and based on mutual respect and adherence to the national interests of every country.

We mention these positions of our organisation with the aim of attracting your attention to the voice of another Iran, a nation in desire to live in peace, freedom and prosperity, a people who, despite more than a century of efforts, has still not achieved these demands.

And still, let us express some of our concerns about your administration’s policies on Iran.

In a great moment of history, the American people elected a president who promised change and the turning away from the principle that anybody who disagreed with American policies was an enemy of the United States. Your presidency began with the splendid gesture of reaching out for the hands of the Iranian leaders, a move not understood and appreciated by the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He argued that within your velvet glove, an iron fist was hidden.

Unfortunately, with the historical background of a chain of two-way actions and reactions, again anxiety is arising that a jargon of threat will replace the hopeful signs of the first years of your presidency. Repeated statements by your administration’s officials that “all options are on the table”, thereby implicitly or even clearly saying that these would also include the military option, have not been helpful in moving away from a war of words. History tells us that nearly all wars begin with a war of words. An escalation of language can produce a situation sliding out of control, a situation in which responsible politicians, even if they are determined to do so and even if they are powerful in times of peace, cannot prevent a catastrophe.

Mr. President,

As Iranians familiar with our country, the world region in which Iran lies and our history, we strongly believe that a military conflict between the United States and Iran would have a devastating impact on the international stability. A military action against Iran will fail to reach the objectives some proponents of the military solution claim to be achievable through the use of force. Even if some military and nuclear facilities in Iran can be destroyed in raids, there is absolutely no guarantee that such raids would terminate the nuclear programme of the Islamic Republic of Iran. For a most probably temporary delay in this programme, the United States would risk decades of acute instability and military tension in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, decades in which America may be forced to continue a military engagement with high costs. The use of force against Iran would certainly harm the perspectives of Iran’s transition to democracy. In the long term, only a democratic government responsible to the Iranian people would guarantee that our country gets a factor of peace and stability in the Middle East. There is no doubt that the Iranian civil society’s standing will take damage from the proliferation of a jargon of war.

Your administration condemned the assassinations of Iranian citizens who are described by the Iranian authorities as contributors to the Iranian nuclear programme, and clearly denied American involvement in such crimes. We appreciate this principal and humanitarian position. But you are certainly aware that repeating the statement about “all options on the table” have incited doubts, even among some U.S. citizens, about the seriousness in the rejection of the use of force. This is also the case for some Iranian citizens. Our conclusion is that accentuating “all options on the table” cannot be the formulation for a responsible and humanitarian policy.

Mr. President,

We believe that your recent statement in the U.S. Congress in which you underlined that peaceful solutions for the Iranian-American issues continue to exist, is realistic, responsible and indicating a policy not giving in to the difficulties on the way to a settlement. We are sure that such an attitude will always find ways to avoid a war of words and open or covert use of force.

Without any compromise in the struggle against the Iranian regime and without recommending a policy of appeasement towards it, we will continue to criticise the nuclear programme of the Islamic Republic. Among others, we struggle for responsible policies towards the international community and have no doubts that the Iranian people’s strive for peace and cooperation with the international community will be strengthened by its resonance in the international community, not by a martial language.

It is the desire of the Iranian people that the nuclear conflict will find a peaceful settlement, and in atmosphere far from the danger of war, the Iranian’s voice for their rights, for democracy and good governance, will be heard by the world. Iranians do not expect anything else from the international community than moral and political support for their fight for freedom. Use of military action and war is not the kind of support the majority of the Iranian people will embrace.

Yours respectfully,

Organisation of Iranian People’s Fadaian (Majority)

Political and Executive Committee

March 3, 2012

My related articles:


End Game Approaches on Nuclear Iran

January 11, 2012

From the start of 2012 the spotlight on Iran and for good reason. Today the entire region is now on tenterhooks for the next move, with US, Iranian and Gulf armies on the highest war alert. Earlier the main scenario was that Israel would make an preventive limited air strike to Iran’s nuclear facilities, now it seems that U.S is going to war with Iran.

The decision point for applying a military option, before too late, is getting nearer. Ehud Barak, Israel’s minister of defense, implied that this critical point would be reached in less than a year, in a recent CNN interview. U.S has changed radically its earlier position, now both the U.S. and Israel say also officially that they have not ruled out military action against Iran. This in case if diplomacy fails to resolve a dispute over the nuclear program, which Tehran says is peaceful but the West believes is a cover for trying to build atomic bombs. The use of military option is now well on the way.

Latest developments

Thousands of US troops began descending on Israel this week as part of the US-IDF deployment in readiness for a military engagement with Iran and its possible escalation into a regional conflict. The 9,000 US servicemen gathering in Israel in the coming weeks are mostly airmen, missile interceptor teams, marines, seamen, technicians and intelligence officers. Officially this maneuver is part in sc Austere Challenge 12, the biggest joint US-Israeli war game ever held. The joint US-Israeli drill will test multiple Israeli and US air defense systems against incoming missiles and rockets, according to the official communique; they will also practice intercepting missiles and rockets coming in from Syria, Hizbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. In fact the joint force will now be in place ready for a decision to attack Iran’s nuclear installations or any war emergency. Washington and Jerusalem are doing their utmost to present a perfectly synchronized military front against Iran: American officers are stationed at IDF command centers and Israeli officers posted at the US European Command-EUCOM.

British Defense Minister Phillip Hammond, on a visit to Washington, affirmed unofficially that Britain stands ready to strike Iran if the Strait of Hormuz is closed. Officially this was not said as the Obama administration tries keep a low profile on plans for attacking Iran.

Tehran is staging military’s maneuvers every few days to assuring the Iranian people that its leaders are fully prepared to defend the country against an American or Israeli strike on its national nuclear program. By this strategy, Iran’s ground, sea and air forces are maintained constantly at top war readiness to thwart any surprise attack. The next Iranian naval exercise at the Strait of Hormuz to take place in February, although its 10-day drill in the same arena only ended Monday, 2. Jan. 2012. Iranian marine commandos were preparing to sow mines in the strategic Strait of Hormuz. Other – last week tested – possibility was using Shahab-3 ballistic missiles which have a range of 1,600 kilometers and other missiles, such as the Nasr1 cruise marine missile, are capable of reaching Hormuz from central Iran. Tehran has also redistributed the Shahab missiles to secret sites ready to launch retaliatory strikes.

Iran itself has reported that the new Fordow nuclear enrichment plant will be operational in the near future to refine uranium to a fissile purity of 20% – far more than the 3.5% level usually required to power nuclear energy plants. 20 % uranium can be turned more easily into fissile warhead material. Based to information of the International Atomic Energy Agency inspection 348 machines are operating at Fordow. Operations at the bunker-like Fordow facility south of Tehran are small in comparison to Iran’s main enrichment site in Natanz in central Iran, where nearly 8,000 centrifuges are operating. The centrifuges at the underground labs are considered more efficient than others and are shielded from aerial surveillance and protected against airstrikes by up to 300 feet (90 meters) of mountain rock. Iran has also announced that it had succeeded in producing and testing its own uranium fuel rods for use in its nuclear power plants. If true, this claim would constitute a significant advance in Iran’s efforts to attain the capability of powering its nuclear reactors without international assistance.

Military option on the table

The starting point with today’s tensions could be the interview in a CBS Tuesday, Dec. 20 where US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said following: “Despite the efforts to disrupt the Iranian nuclear program, they have reached a point where they can assemble a bomb in a year or potentially less”. This is a radical change in US administration policy. “That’s a red line for us and that’s a red line, obviously, for the Israelis,” Panetta noted. Instead of warning Israel against striking Iran, he said: “If we have to do it we will deal with it.”A nuclear weapon in Iran is unacceptable”.

From Tehran’s standpoint, the American military departure from Iraq has removed a formidable obstacle in Israel’s path to an attack on its nuclear installations: the shield of the US Air Force’s control of Iraqi skies.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint US Chiefs of Staff, issued a warning: “Iran is playing a dangerous game that could ensnare the Middle East, the Middle East and others into conflict and a renewed arms race.Don’t push it.” He was described as quietly leading the ongoing military planning for an attack against Iran’s nuclear weapons if the president gives the order to do so. Gen. Dempsey went on to say: “My biggest worry is they (Iran) will miscalculate our resolve. One factor is also Israel which destroyed Iraq’s nuclear plant in Osirak on 1981 without warning US beforehand. ”There is no guarantee that Israel will give the United States warning if it decides to attack Iran,” Dempsey said. “We are trying to establish some confidence on the part of the Israelis that we recognize their concerns and are collaborating with them on addressing them.”

Covert activities

Covert activities against Iran have included the use of computer worms to attack Iran’s nuclear installations, including the Stuxnet virus that in 2010 was thought to have destroyed more than a thousand of Iran’s uranium-enriching centrifuges by causing them to spin out of control. Several Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated, and in November explosions ripped through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ ballistic missile base near Tehran. Seventeen people were killed, including one of the IRGC’s top officers in the missile development program.

The covert activity is designed to slow Iran’s nuclear progress but they are not stopping Iran’s enrichment activity permanently. Iran is thought to have many more nuclear scientists and missile designers than Western intelligence services could ever eliminate.

In October, the Obama administration accused Iran of plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington, an alleged plot that some Iran analysts see as an Iranian effort to hit back. The storming of Britain’s Embassy in Tehran in late November and a December explosion outside Britain’s Embassy in Bahrain may be other signals of Iran’s intention to respond to covert fire.

The Strike

According to reports in Haaretz and Ynetnews 29.12.11, Israel and the United States have recently been discussing ‘red lines’ which would necessitate a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. US administration is keen to avoid Israel surprising the US by taking unexpected military action against Iran in the coming year. Scenarios, in which Washington might find a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities necessary, include e.g. if Iran were to expel IAEA observers, if it were to enrich uranium to weapons grade, and if it were to install advanced centrifuges in its newly constructed underground uranium enrichment facility in Qom or Iran making progress on new secret enrichment facilities.

Illustration by IISS

The U.S. Air Force has unveiled the Massive Ordnance Penetrator – dubbed the Big Blu – and speculation is already mounting that it may be used in airstrikes on Iran (as well on North Korea if needed). B-2 Stealth Bombers will use the six metre long GPS guided rocket, fitted with 2.5 tons of explosives, to smash open underground bunkers and tunnels suspected of containing weapons of mass destruction.

To be a successful military strike, Iran must be deterred and prevented from rebuilding its programme. Is this possible is the question and will define the scope of attack.

Counter acts?

In response to mounting Western pressure over its nuclear ambitions, Iran started a naval drill in the Gulf last week , responded with belligerent rhetoric, spooking oil markets by warning that it could shut the Strait of Hormuz if sanctions were imposed on its oil exports, the country’s main revenue source. However if Hormuz will be closed by mines, the U.S using mine countermeasures can reopen Hormuz within 24-48 hours.

The Strait of Hormuz is one of the world’s most important waterways. Some 40% of all seaborne oil passes through this narrow passageway, which is equivalent to about 20% of total oil traded worldwide. This amounts to 16.5 to 17 million barrels per day (other significant choke-points for the transit of oil include the Suez Canal – 4.5 million barrels per day and the Strait of Malacca – 15 million barrels per day).

Israel has no influence over internal events in Syria or Lebanon. Its interest is in a quiet northern border. For as long as Hezbollah is able to maintain its independent military infrastructure in Lebanon, the threat of an attack on Israel remains. Hezbollah has extensively rearmed after the losses it incurred in the 2006 Second Lebanon War. It is now estimated to have an arsenal of 40,000 rockets, including precision guided missiles that can reach all parts of Israel. It has also deliberately deployed its weapons in villages to make them harder for Israel to target in any future conflict due civilian/collateral damages which would damage Israel’s image even more if possible.

On 7 July, Israel Defense Forces revealed, in unprecedented detail, previously classified information about Hezbollah’s deployment in south Lebanon. The information released focused on El Khiam, a Shia town in south east Lebanon a few miles from the border with Israel. El Khiam was the scene of fighting during the 2006 war; the surrounding area was used by Hezbollah to launch Katyusha rockets at Israel. The IDF material included maps and a 3D simulated video of the village, showing that weaponry and rockets were being stored close to schools, hospitals and residential buildings.

A military strike can have serious strategic consequences too. Iran will surely respond violently, both directly and through proxies such as Hezbollah. Iran has long-range missile systems including the Shahab-3, which could reach Israel and U.S. bases in the Middle East. The conflict could escalate into a regional war. Iran may take aggressive action in the straits of Hormuz, leading to a spike in oil prices, even though disrupting the flow of oil would be self-defeating.

Preparations for counter strike

The Magic Wand by Rafael

Israeli defense technology developer Rafael last week unveiled its medium-range missile interceptor, the Magic Wand, designed to shoot incoming missiles and rockets out of the sky with its own guided projectile. The Magic Wand is seen as a possible defense against Lebanon-based terrorist group Hezbollah’s stockpile of medium-range missiles. Magic Wand’s first operational test is expected to take place this Spring. Israel has – after Magic Wand – three different kinds of interceptors to provide a shield against a multitude of missile threats. Iron Dome to shoot down short-range rockets such as the Qassams fired by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, older Arrow 2 anti-ballistic missile provides defenses against larger ballistic missiles, such as Scuds or Iran’s long-range Shahab missiles. Testing full operational capacity of newer Arrow 3 interceptor is ongoing. ( More about Israeli missile defence in article Will Iron Dome balance the Hamas Terror? . )

Risks?

War games are a puzzle not only with tactical alternatives, timing, more or less accurate intelligence and means available but also with known and un-known risks. One event on 4th Dec 2011 brought one new piece to this puzzle.

US stealth drone RQ-170

On Dec 8th 2011 Iran exhibited the top-secret US stealth drone RQ-170 Sentinel captured on Sunday, Dec. 4. Its almost perfect condition confirmed Tehran’s claim that the UAV was downed by a cyber attack, meaning it was not shot down but brought in undamaged by an electronic warfare ambush. This is a major debacle for the stealth technology the US uses in its warplanes and the drone technology developed by the US and Israel. The state of the lost UAV refutes the US military contention that the Sentinel’s systems malfunctioned. If this had happened, it would have crashed and either been wrecked or damaged. The condition of the RQ-170 intact obliges the US and Israel to make major changes in plans for a potential strike against Iran’s nuclear program.

There is also some other risks than Iran’s counter strike such as

  • Air strike would not eliminate the knowledge about how to build a nuclear weapon that Iran already has.
  • Bombing would pass those nuclear sites that foreign intelligence services do not know about.
  • Attack could create unneeded tensions between US and China and Russia, who are needed to successfully resolve this issue via non-military means
  • Israel might have best available missile defense.  However the capacity can not absorb 40.000 missiles by Hizbollah in short period of time and some % will cause serious damage.

The newest Iranian nuclear facilities are nearly 100 meter deep in hard rock. The consequence is that to destroy this plant the most effective bunker busters are needed maybe even a nuclear bomb some 1 megaton size. Using so heavy methods can have their effect also outside Iran’s borders e.g in form of radioactive dust.

Position of Iran

Israel is unique in that it perceives a nuclear Iran as a potentially existential threat. The Iranian leadership has continuously threatened to “wipe Israel off the map” and with nuclear weapons they could also implement this aim. Given their collective memory of the Holocaust and the hostile surrounding in which they have had to defend themselves, Israelis take this threat especially seriously. A nuclear Iran would change radically regional or even geopolitical balance. It would increase the danger of miscalculation towards a nuclear crisis. Iran could take bolder position threatening Israel and moderate Arab regimes, undermining any Israeli-Arab peace process and manipulating the energy markets.

Dore Gold hits the core of the problem in his column published in IsraelHayom by asking Is Iran rational? One of the most difficult questions that the West needs to answer in the year ahead is whether Iranian behavior will be influenced mostly by rational considerations or by ideological beliefs. Some analysts say that the possession of nuclear weapons might encourage moderation in the Iranian regime ( Reuven Pedatzur in Haaretz on Dec. 20, 2011). The leading commentator on international affairs in the U.S., Fareed Zakaria, also believes that a nuclear Iran would act rationally and could be deterred. He notes that the Revolutionary Guard has become the center of power in Iranian decision-making taking, displacing the religious leadership.

Western intelligence has assessed that if Iran wanted to develop atomic bombs, it has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity eventually to do so. There might be not yet a consensus in Tehran that they actually want build a bomb, it is seen more like an open option for the future. So far the aim of in fact covert war has been to give Iran’s leaders a reason not to go nuclear weapons. However Iran might see this current policy opposite way, it could give Iran a reason to weaponise. So far the aim of in fact covert war has been to give Iran’s leaders a reason not to go nuclear weapons. However Iran might see this current policy opposite way, it could give Iran a reason to weaponise.

The registration of candidates for the Majles elections slated for March 2, 2012 ended last weekend. Meanwhile, power struggles are still being waged between the two major bodies affiliated with the conservative bloc: the United Conservative Front, affiliated with President Ahmadinejad’s political opponents, and the Stability Front of the Islamic Revolution (Jebhe-ye Paydari), which consists of activists considered to be the president’s allies. The Khabar Online website reported this week that from among more than 1,000 candidates who registered for the elections in Tehran Province, only about 60 are well-known political personalities; and that 46% of the candidates are affiliated with the United Conservative Front, 21% with the Stability Front, and 7% with the reformist camp.

Will there be anything else than negative and more negative outcomes?

An alternative way to military option from my point of view – which might be too optimistic – is to boost of diplomacy and sanctions. After years of measures that had little impact, the new sanctions are the first that could have a serious effect on Iran’s oil trade, which is 60 percent of its economy. Sanctions signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama on New Year’s Eve would cut financial institutions that work with Iran’s central bank off from the U.S. financial system, blocking the main path for Iran to receive payments for its crude.

Following the announcement by the European Union that its member states will cease imports of Iranian crude oil, Japan said yesterday that it would also consider cutbacks in its purchases of Iranian oil. Also China has cut its purchases of Iranian oil by half this month, and is set to extend its cuts into February. The EU, China and Japan account for about half of the totality of Iranian exports of 2.6 billion barrels of oil per day. These new sanctions will have some economic effect in Iran but other sanctions might be needed.

Diplomacy must be done with various interests in mind. Iran has recently signaled that it is willing to restart talks with UN lead international community based 5+1 composition (=UNSC+Germany). The hope is that Iran will come around and allow IAEA inspectors to resume inspections. However, there always exists the possibility that Iran may use IAEA inspections as a way to buy time at sites unknown to the IAEA. If sanctions and diplomacy fail and proof of a nuclear weapons program is established, should the military option be seriously considered.

If all non-military pressures fail there are clearly no “good” options available. In my opinion it is hard to believe either side wants a war to start because all sides are aware about risks. Today’s preparations for strike might be aimed to be means of pressure to get non-military solution. However, when emotions are high, domestic political interests differ in different key player states and massive destruction weaponery is on the theatre the situation can escalate anytime.


Support for Iranian Opposition

March 4, 2011

While Libya has become the focal point in international media covering the events on Arab St. one should not forget Iran either. DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources reveal that the two prominent opposition leaders, Mir-Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi, were secretly hauled out of their homes in sacks Thursday, Feb. 24 and taken to the infamous Parchin prison in Tehran. Their wives have also disappeared. Their families deny official claim the two leaders are at home.


Organization of Iranian People’s Fadaian (Majority) has send a letter to EU leadership to intervene more actively to pressurize the Iranian government so that it respects human rights in Iran. As the letter includes in my opinion good background information as well a draft for action plan of this possible intervention I hereby publish the letter mentioned below:



سازمان فدائیان خلق ایران(اکثریت)

Organization of Iranian People’s Fadaian (Majority)

http://www.fadai.org/english.htm international-relations@fadai.org

 

R.nr 138 1st March, 2011
I.G.e.v
PB 260268
50515 Cologne
Germany

Tel:0049/221/37770

Behruz.khaligh@fadai.org

 

Mr. Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council

Mr. José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission

Mr. Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament

Ms. Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

Dear Sirs,
Dear Madam,

 

According to family members of two Iranian opposition leaders, Mir Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi, and some other reports, the above-named persons have been arrested and jailed on the eve of a nationwide protest on 1 March 2011. Their children have not seen in public or the two, since just before the Feb. 14 protests which they had called for. The reports indicate that both men and their wives, Mrs. Zahra Rahnavard and Mrs. Fatemeh Karroubi, are now incarcerated at Heshmatieh prison in Tehran. Today, Mr. Mehmanparast, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, declared the issue to be an internal affair, which only confirms the arrest and nothing more.

We, the Organisation of Iranian People’s Fadaian (Majority), are concerned about the latest developments in the attitude of the Iranian regime to the symbolic figures of the “Green movement”. A violent escalation against them could degenerate into a more widespread bloodbath of political opponents and civil society activists in Iran. Only today, there were demonstrations and protest actions in Teheran and some another cities in Iran, resulting in more killings and arrests. The need for action is urgent.

We now ask the European institutions to intervene more actively to pressurise the Iranian government so that it respects human rights in Iran. We call in particular for an urgent and concerted diplomatic initiative aimed at the immediate release of Messrs. Moussavi and Karroubi and their wives and the lifting of contact restrictions imposed on them; aimed also at confirmation that their physical integrity, which seems now seriously threatened, is being safeguarded.

This initiative could include in particular:

– Summoning simultaneously Ambassadors of the Islamic Republic of Iran accredited to the countries of the European Union to demand the immediate release of Messrs. Moussavi and Karroubi and their wives and the lifting of contact restrictions imposed on them; also, to protest strongly against violations of human rights in Iran;

– Demarche by European Union Ambassadors accredited to Iran along the same lines;

– Announcement of a visit to Iran by the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with Iran and / or the Sub-Commission on Human Rights of the European Parliament including a request to visit Messrs. Moussavi and Karroubi;

– A proposal by the European Union addressed to UN bodies, including the Council for Human Rights, which is meeting in Geneva in March 2011, to appoint a Special Reporter for Human Rights in Iran;

– A proposal by the European Union to the Security Council of the United Nations to adopt targeted sanctions against members of Iranian security forces responsible for violations of human rights, including the Basij;

– Adoption by the EU of autonomous sanctions along the same lines.

The human rights situation in Iran is more dangerous today than at any time since June 12, 2009. The people of Iran expect the international community, including the European Union, to support them in preventing a surge of violence by the regime and to ensure that human rights and the demands of justice and freedom are respected at last.

Yours sincerely,

 

Behruz Khaligh

Head of the Political and Executive Committee

Organization of Iranian People’s Fadaïan (Majority)

 

Note (AR)

The Organization of Iranian People’s Fedai Guerrillas (OIPFG سازمان چريکهای فدايي خلق ايران) was originally a radical Marxist-Leninist movement in Iran in 1971. The group fought against the Shah regime and later after the 1979 revolution, against the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. OIPFG has had many internal divisions, e.g. in 1979 some separatist formed sc Iranian People’s Fedai Guerrillas while former OIPFG cadres formed the Organization of Revolutionary Workers of Iran. Majority of the organization members did not believe in armed struggle any more and at the new political atmosphere recognized the Islamic Republic as an anti-Imperialist state. OIPFG was divided into OIPFG (Majority) and Organization of Iranian People’s Fedai Guerrillas (Minority). OIPFG (Minority), which broke away from the main organization, was pursuing a more radical line. On 1981OIPFG (Majority) supporters announced that the group would cease to conduct guerrilla warfare and was renamed Organization of Iranian People’s Fedaian (Majority).

Some of my earlier Iran articles:

 

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